Friday, February 1, 2019

From Lochwinnoch to Dallas

Yesterday I was walking the dog at Castle Semple in Lochwinnoch. I took one picture that I thought was pretty good, more due to the weather than with my expertise with the camera. I posted it on Facebook then, with no connection whatsoever,  I sent a few email about going to Dallas.
                                                           3pm !
Then last night, somebody who didn’t see the photograph and wasn’t involved in the Dallas emails decided to send me a link to a very old magazine because he knew I blogged for a site that has a big American readership. 
The article suggests a very spooky link between these photographs and the book depository in Dallas … pause here for dramatic music...
Here goes....
Castle Semple was founded by Lord Sempill. He was killed a Flodden in 1513 and his tomb is in the remains of the Collegiate Church near the loch. The gravestones were moved in the early 1900s to allow the railway access to Lochwinnoch. Nearby is the huge tombstone of Gabrielle Sempill – he died on May 4th 1587  - and near to that is a white marble stone commemorating the death of 9 year old Alice Elizabeth Lee Harvey who died in 1871. 
Other stones around the area are James Octavius Lee Harvey, Hendry Lee Harvey and Annie Lee Harvey. Most American visitors ask the obvious question. 
Derek Parker has been digging around and the story probably goes like this. The MacDowall family bought the entire Castle Semple estate, including the church, in 1813 and like many Renfrewshire families (including the ones who built my house, Spooky Towers)  they traded and made their fortune in sugar cane and tobacco. Lee Harvey Oswald was born in 1939 in New Orleans, one of the nearest American cities to the West Indies. Was he a descendant of the Scottish  Lee Harveys who worked in the West Indies? Or did his ancestors simply migrate from Lochwinnoch to the new world?
Because Scots like to get everywhere, Oswald is also an ancient Scottish name and that family moved from Caithness to Glasgow and then made frequent business trips to the West Indies. The Oswalds were contemporaries of the MacDowall and the Harvey families and they probably stood on the side of the Loch right where these pictures were taken. They would be wrapped up, strolling home for a tea and scones after a cold morning haggis hunting.
Not only do Scots get everywhere in search of better weather, they also breed a lot when they get there. This might be something to do with wearing the kilt.
Another family around at that time were the Sinclair's and they had a stroppy daughter who refused to marry a Semple and built my house instead. 
Two more interesting facts – one of the young Semple’s married a beautiful girl, but on their wedding night, as he turned round to kiss her she disintegrated into a pile of old bones. I was quite happily going to type 'she was the last witch to be burned in Paisley' but I think I’ve got my stories mixed up there. I don’t know. Maybe they flung her twigs on the fire.
And of course, this is the stretch of water where the body is found in The Suffering of Strangers. It floats from this side which is the canoeing and windsurfing side, over to the nature reserve on the  far side.
There is a lot of history for you and like most history much of it will be apocryphal and the rest will not necessarily be in the right order.

Caro Ramsay 1st Feb 2019


  1. Hmmm, what new conspiracy theory do we have hatching here? Soon, US radio talk show hosts will pick up on this and God knows who they'll be dragging into their conspiracy obsession over our Lady Di moment. I expect that they'll soon be claiming that a family once lived nearby the Lee Harveys that bore the fine Scottish name of Grassy-Knoll.

    Thanks for this lovely walk in the park, Caro, and can't wait do see you in Dallas.

    Southfork forever.

    1. That would be the Grassie-MacKnowles. Very famous Scottish family, they were green before it was environmental

  2. I'm disappointed you left out the connection between MacSrihan and John Hinkley!

    1. I'm working on it Stan. Just feel bit responsible for another president..I mean 50% of that orange DNA. We do apologize.

  3. Amazing post with lots of informative and useful and amazing content. Well written and done!! Thanks for sharing keep posting.